Dragging and Dropping with Mission Control

When you've got multiple windows and applications open on your Mac, moving items between them can seem like a daunting prospect. I've found myself in this position a lot, especially now that I use DEVONthink Pro Office almost exclusively as my Finder replacement now (amongst other things!). Dragging items out from it for insertion into other documents often seemed like more effort than it was worth.

Resizing windows, re-organising work spaces - all stuff that I could have done without.

I didn't realise however that using Mission Control would help with this. Here are some brief examples of how you can leverage Mission Control to ease some of these situations.

Copying Text or an Image between Windows

If you have text or an image that you need to copy between windows, then press ⌘+C to copy to your clipboard, swipe three fingers up on the trackpad to enable Mission Control (or use a keyboard shortcut you have configured for this) and then select the application you would like to paste to. Hit ⌘+V to paste it in.

Copying a File or Folder to the Desktop

Similar to above. Click ⌘+C to add to the clipboard and then press ⌘+F3 to move all windows aside and show the desktop. You can then paste with ⌘+V and press the ⌘+F3 keys to return to your previous view.

Moving a File or Folder to the Desktop

Rather than hitting the copy shortcut, start dragging the item you wish to move and press ⌘+F3 to reveal the desktop. Drop the item in place, hit the keys again and return.

Quite often I find myself needing to drag files into specific folders into Finder (or more recently, DEVONthink Pro Office). For example, I may have an Image File that needs to move into a specific folder within Dropbox, rather than the root Dropbox folder itself. This is easy to do without the need for opening multiple tabs in Finder.

I am working on the assumption that you will have locations configured in your Finder sidebar for usuals such as Documents, Downloads, Dropbox etc

  • Start to drag the file you wish to move over to a location in your sidebar. In this case, I have the root Dropbox folder in my Favourites so is perfect for this situation.
  • If you keep hovering over this folder, you will see that it will 'expand' within the open Finder tab. Hover your file over the next folder that you need to dive into without releasing your finger from the mouse/trackpad
  • Continue until you reach the folder that you wish to drop the file into.

This doesn't just work for Finder, but for a host of popular macOS application. Dragging and Dropping into subfolders and location seems to be such a simple idea however I've only just really discovered it and can't believe I missed it for so long!

One thing I used it for on my last contract project was embedding email correspondance into OmniFocus 2. I'd highlight the email in my application of choice (in this case, Airmail) and drag the email out. From here, I would either use Mission Control to reveal OmniFocus or, whilst still pressing the track pad to drag the file, I'd press ⌘+TAB to bring up the Application Switcher and change to OmniFocus. From there, I'd paste it into the Notes field of the Project or Action it related to. Easy.

Do you have any other ways of moving content from one application to another on macOS? Would love to hear.